STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER Rabbi Mark Wildes
Last evening I watched Channel 2’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Beatles famous debut in America on the Ed Sullivan Show in February of 1964. For me personally the Beatles represent not only my favorite music but an exciting part of my childhood.
From 1970 to 1975 my father represented John Lennon in deportation proceedings initiated by the United States government during the Nixon administration. Although a legal “reason” was offered by the government it was highly political as John was quite outspoken against Vietnam and had initiated a “Dump Nixon” campaign. In addition the voting age had just dropped to 18, another reason why John’s influence on America’s voting youth could cause problems for the President’s re-election. After a five year battle with the government my father was successful in fighting the deportation and in securing John his green card for permanent residence. On the last day in court my brother and I got to meet the famed ex-Beatle. It was my 8th birthday and after we met John he leaned over and said to me: “Happy Birthday Mark, you can have your father back now”.
Although my father was John’s lawyer and friend I was and remain “The Beatle fanatic” in the family. (My father could never give up his love for classical music and my brother still thinks Elvis is the eternal king of Rock and Roll). I absolutely love their music and to this day enjoy learning more and more about each and every song they composed.
But how is it that after 50 years so many millions of people still listen to the same music? How is it that the music of The Fab Four continues to sell in a society which prides itself as always changing and moving on to something new?
The answer is quite simple: Quality and depth last. Whenever we come across something that has true substance and which reflects something of a deeper dimension, it usually stands the test of time. If our continued interest in the Beatles after five decades demonstrates the quality and depth of their music than what can be said of a tradition which is still appreciated and practiced for several millennium? The quality and depth of our own Judaism must be that much greater.
I always wondered how it is that every year we read the same parsha or portion of the Torah and yet it never grows dull. How each and every year we go through the very same stories of the Bible, read the same laws and recite the identical commandments. It’s not as though we expect some new ending to one of the stories or for one of the laws to change and yet our Torah continues to inspire and guide. Why? Because there’s enormous quality and depth to Judaism and when something is so deep it has layers upon layers of wisdom for us to uncover. As we do this each and every week, year after year, we discover greater insights into the world around us and into the human condition within ourselves.
And that can last a lifetime. Strawberry Fields Forever.